On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Chuck Todd tried to continue the same hatchet job as the last time that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) experienced the last time he was interviewed. Todd began by addressing the tragic Lafayette (LA) shooting and calling Sanders “pro-NRA.” During Sanders’ answer, Todd also used the same false meme about the United States having enough laws to stop the shooter if they were followed. In fact, the loopholes in the law allowed the shooter to legally buy a gun from a pawn shop in the small town of Phenix (AL) where he lived.
Todd followed up that set of questions by describing what he called an “attack” on Sanders at the Netroots Nation conference by Black Lives Matter activists in Phoenix (AZ) and tried to make Sanders seem indifferent to racial problems. Failing at that tactic, Todd asked Sanders whether he and Donald Trump had similar appeals as a conservative pundit had claimed.
Sanders explained that he voted to ban certain types of assault weapons, to close the gun show loophole, and have instant background checks. With Sanders’ D- rating from NRA, Todd lacked any background for his accusation, but he tends to do research for his interviews. About the situation in Phoenix, Sanders said that he was there to talk about immigration reform but that the people who disrupted the meeting had “a very important issue.” Todd failed to show a clip of the event because Sanders tutored Todd on the intersectionality of poverty and race that fuels racial tensions. Sanders finished by saying that he was not similar to Trump before Todd once again tried to sandbag Sanders with references to Hillary Clinton.
When Todd regained control by safely returning to a largely conservative panel, he called Sanders “defensive” and criticized Sanders for connecting economic and racial issues. The entire panel discussion following Sanders’ interview was about Hillary Clinton. Again Todd failed to correct falsehoods when panel member Sara Fagen said that liberals have moved farther to the left while the right has moved farther in the opposite direction. Todd weakly responded that “not everyone would agree with you” but failed to point out that the left has stayed in the same place while the right has moved far to the extreme.
This graph shows how Democrats are exactly where they were in 1879 after becoming far more liberal whereas the right has made a dramatic shift to conservativism, especially since Ronald Reagan was elected.
Todd spent over15 minutes addressing Donald Trump—partly describing “funny” ways that current GOP candidates are trying to bring attention to themselves rather than to Trump. When Fagen tried to explain that Trump’s 20 percent choice in New Hampshire , no one pointed out that this number is really high in a field of 16 candidates.
In another interview, this one with GOP presidential candidate John Kasich, Todd appeared non-confrontational and congenial. The discussion was about issues, and Todd stared at Kasich sagely, appearing to agree with all the positions that Kasich espoused. After a simple question about Trump, Kasich said he didn’t want to talk about him, and Todd moved on. There were no questions about Clinton, and Todd seemed to allow Kasich to lead the interview.
Sara Fagen accused Planned Parenthood of selling tissue, a patent falsehood that Todd failed to correct. Neither he nor other panelists made any mention that the doctored videos promoting this lie came from the Center for Medical Progress, an organization with ties to anti-abortion terrorists and stalkers.
The woman allowed to present her two major lies on what was, in the past, a reputable news program was a “top Iowa staffer” in George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, moved on to be political director on Bush’s White House team, and then resigned 2007 while subpoenaed to testify about the U.S. Attorney scandal under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Emails show that Fagen was part of the campaign to eliminate high-performing U.S. Attorneys who were replaced by lawyers loyal to her employer, Karl Rove. Eventually, she testified before a Senate panel but concealed many communications under broad executive privilege authorized by George W. Bush. Gonzales resigned in disgrace for this scandal and other indiscretions.
Todd even irritated his conservative base when he predicted that Trump would make Hillary Clinton president if he ran as a third party candidate. That was immediately after he said that he’s “not going to try to predict anything Trump might do.” In his highlighting of Trump, Todd also gave racist and homophobic Pat Buchanan a platform. In 2012, Buchanan lost his place on the NBC network because of his book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” supposedly documenting how diversity and immigration ruin the United States. Todd said nothing about Buchanan’s past except he was a presidential candidate in 1992 and former communications director for Reagan’s White House. Buchanan was allowed to present his xenophobic statements framing immigration as a “massive invasion” and “conquest of the West” by “third-world … border jumpers.”
Sanders sticks to the issues; Todd panders to the right, partly because he is afraid that he can’t get conservatives to come onto his show if he treats them in the same way that he does people on the left. Once again, Todd bashed the major Democratic presidential candidates running against Jim Webb. One of Webb’s campaign team is Kristian Denny Webb, Chuck Todd’s wife.
Unable to find any dirt on Sanders, conservatives have to resort to lying. On National Public Radio, which was more accurate and progressive before the Koch brothers started funding it, host Diane Rehm threw this statement into the midst of a 50-minute interview with Sanders.
Rehm: “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”
[She didn’t even ask it as a question. Later Rehm said that a listener made the comment on Facebook.]
Sanders: “Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American…. I’m an American citizen, period.” He was born in Brooklyn to Polish immigrants, and he’s Jewish. But Rehm didn’t quit.
Rehm: “I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list. Forgive me if that is —“
After Sanders again denied her statement, she expanded her unsubstantiated falsehood to the entire Congress when she asked, “Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship, or is that part of the fable?” Her term “list” is reminiscent of the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) had a false “list” of Communists that destroyed many people. Rehm’s baseless hearsay is unprofessional and reprehensible, especially on a radio station that my taxes support, but it may be an indicator of things to come in the next 16 months.
Many Republicans are in tune with Sanders’ policies. And that’s members of the GOP, not the entire population:
- 80%: money has too much influence in our politics.
- 54%: most of the time candidates directly help those who gave money to them.
- 81%: campaign finance system needs fundamental changes (45%) or a complete rebuild (36%).
- 64%: changes are unlikely to be made to reform the campaign finance system.
- 71%: the amount that individuals can give to campaigns should be limited.
- 73%: super PAC spending should be limited by law.
- 76%: superPACs should be required to disclose their donors.
According to the general population:
- 66%: the distribution of money and wealth should be more even.
- 67%: the wealth gap between rich and poor is getting larger in the U.S.
- 57%: government should do more to reduce the wealth gap.
- 68%: taxes should be raised on those who earn more than $1 million per year.
- 50%: limits should be put on earnings for corporations’ top executives.
- 74%: corporations have too much influence on U.S. life and politics.
- 71%: the U.S. minimum wage should be increased to $10.10 per hour.
- 80%: people should have paid family leave and 85% paid sick leave.
The GOP is rapidly losing approval, especially among Republicans. In a new Pew Research Center poll, only 32 percent had a favorable opinion of the GOP, down from 41 percent only six months ago. Republican approval dropped 18 percent since January from 86 percent to 68 percent, and approval among independents dropped from 37 percent to 29 percent. Democrats have held steady during the same time, even rising two points. The honeymoon from last year’s election is over.
At the same time, Bernie Sanders is gathering crowds of thousands, even in conservative bastions such as Phoenix (AZ) and Dallas (TX). Sanders’ recent appearance in New Orleans drew five times as many people in the audience as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s announcement of his presidential campaign, and Sanders’ largest audience of 11,000 is larger than any GOP presidential candidate–eleven times as many as those who turned out for Chris Christie.
That’s something else that Chuck Todd failed to mention.